How This Tool Ended Teachers’ Tech Fears and Addressed Students’...

Teaching & Learning

How This Tool Ended Teachers’ Tech Fears and Addressed Students’ Social-Emotional Needs

from GoGuardian

By Wendy McMahon     Nov 22, 2021

How This Tool Ended Teachers’ Tech Fears and Addressed Students’ Social-Emotional Needs

This article is part of the guide: How Is Technology Shaping the Future of K-12 Education?

Josh Davis spent 14 years teaching high school special education and middle school history, so he’s well aware of a few classroom constants. He understands how students with learning difficulties can feel separated from the rest of their classmates, how issues at home sometimes manifest as classroom misbehavior, and that being singled out—for both positive and negative reasons—is panic-inducing for just about all students.

However, Davis discovered new constants when he moved out of the classroom and into his current role as instructional technology coach at Downey Unified School District in California. Over and over, he saw teachers resisting technology adoption because they didn’t want to look foolish trying something new in front of students.

Davis is committed to helping his teachers reach higher levels of tech integration. And one tool helping him on this journey is GoGuardian’s classroom management software, which his district adopted in 2018 as part of their one-to-one initiative.

EdSurge chatted with Davis to learn why GoGuardian Teacher was the “foot-in-the-door tool” that made technology less intimidating for Downey teachers. He also shared the surprising ways the tool helps strengthen student-teacher relationships and gives teachers the sense of security they need to try new things.

EdSurge: Can you provide some context on Downey’s early days of edtech adoption?

Davis: When we started putting devices in teachers’ and students’ hands in 2018, many teachers were super-hesitant. They were afraid students would use their tech to cheat. We tried to help them understand that students who would cheat were likely already cheating, but that fear was still there.

We felt strongly about introducing our students to technology in the classroom because we knew many of our students didn't have a device at home. School was the only place they could build those vital tech skills.

With GoGuardian in place, teachers had insight into how engaged students were and if they were understanding the lesson. That lowered the fear factor and allowed them to go ahead and start using technology. Teachers began using GoGuardian to boost student engagement, pushing out documents or links to save class time. Then, I started noticing the ways that GoGuardian changes teaching and builds relationships in the classroom.

Will you talk a bit more about how classroom management software helps build student/teacher relationships?

It’s a whole series of things. For example, if a student has a rough day, they won’t walk up to a teacher and say something because the entire class will know. But if that student can send a message to tell the teacher something privately, they’ll do it.

It also allows teachers to give real-time, one-on-one feedback without singling out a student in front of the class. For example, if a student is working on an essay in a language arts class and is way off track, the teacher can pop a message on their screen that says, "Hey, this paragraph looks off-topic, try focusing on..."

High school students, especially, can feel singled out and embarrassed, even when you do something meant to help. With GoGuardian, teachers still give feedback and redirect students; they just do it privately. That goes a long way in building relationships.

And that’s just the beginning. We haven’t even touched on the ability to personalize learning.

Let’s dig into that. How does this software support personalized learning?

When teachers push activities or materials out to students, they don’t have to share the same thing with everyone. Take math, for example: Teachers tell me they send students worksheets that meet them at their reading level or ability level—without singling them out and creating stigma. If a student is excelling and finishes quickly, the teacher can share more challenging work and a note that says, “Hey, you did a great job with that work. Why don’t you try this now.”

The same is true for students with special needs. Maybe they get fewer problems or customized tasks to meet their reading level. One teacher told me how her special education students could integrate into the class because their aide can monitor and help them through GoGuardian Teacher.

That simple change addressed their social-emotional needs because they no longer have to sit as a group with an aide standing next to them all day. They can be anywhere and be part of the class. Again, it’s relationship building. The students feel like teachers are looking out for them.

Davis and his Downey colleagues discuss the district's edtech adoption journey. (Credit: GoGuardian)

How are the teachers in your district using GoGuardian to help students build critical skills?

We’re addressing some social-emotional needs, and we’ve lowered the fear factor for teachers. Now, it’s exciting to see where they're willing to go. When people aren’t afraid of failing, they can excel, and you can see that happening here.

One of our teachers is using OneNote, Google Docs and Flipgrid in a single U.S. History course assignment about the Constitution. And he’s running it all through GoGuardian Teacher. The goal is for students to debate which of the three branches of government is more powerful or more important. They take notes from their research in OneNote, write out their debate arguments in Google Docs and then record their stance with Flipgrid.

It’s this super-cool, crazy-awesome lesson that he says he would never have done without GoGuardian to help him monitor student progress with a glance.

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